• Your Favorite Live Music

    One of my favorite quotes of all time came after several minutes of a friend talking about a fellow star’s boring live performances.  At the end came an emphatic, “And that’s why I don’t like [artist].” I find that few people’s favorite shows are performed by their favorite artist.  Personally, some of my favorite artists are now my favorites because of their shows.

    I’m excited about a weekend this fall when I plan to see two of my favorite live artists – The Reverend Horton Heat (a psychobilly trio who put out more energy in one show than some powerplants) then a couple days later The David Crowder Band (a Christian group known for experimenting with their sounds and shows; I’ve seen a homemade robot drum for them, heard the whole band sing through T-Payne apps and watched half the band donate their shoes to someone in the crowd).  I liked both artists before I saw them, but now they are both on my top 10 list.

    It’s hard to pick a single favorite show, but I have to go with The Police in Hershey, PA.  The band broke up when I was in 3rd grade, but I vowed to see them if the chance was ever presented.  When they announced their reunion tour a few years ago, 4 of us bought our tickets and tackled the 430 mile trip that was worth every inch.  Sting’s son and his band Fiction Plane opened for the show in Hershey Park Stadium.  The stage was set against the gorgeous background of the Hershey resort.  Both bands were on point, there was the perfect amount of stage theatrics to set off an amazing concert without overshadowing the playing that made The Police one of the best bands of all time.

    But this isn’t about me, it’s about live music.  I asked some coworkers about their favorite shows.

    Audio Architect Michelle Colyar-Cooper

    That’s a tough question…my favorite concert ever would have to be the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Andrew Bird.  A couple of years ago we were on vacation in New Orleans and that meant we HAD to go to the Preservation Hall and experience the Band live and in their element.  We heard rumors that somebody was going to be making a surprise guest appearance at the show and the rumors were spot on.  Andrew Bird was in town recording and came out and performed with them.  The band all by themselves are an amazing bunch of musicians.  Their music was tight and they were soaring.  Then Andrew Bird came out and joined them, singing and playing some new songs, but mostly old standards reinvented.  The collaboration between them made for a truly unique and enthralling show.  The room was stiflingly hot, but nobody cared because the music was phenomenal.

    Collections Specialist Les Libby

    Barbara and I heard Trans-Siberian Orchestra a couple of years ago and just loved their sound. We heard they were coming to Charlotte last year for a Christmas show. We got great seats for the concert being it was the 1st time seeing the show; all I can say is WOW AWESOME and incredible show. The arms of the stage extent into the audience and if lucky enough where you sit the guitarist or violinist will be on top of you. The laser portion and backdrops also were incredible to see. One of the guitarist’s gave his guitar to a young fan; that surely made his day. The concert was worth every dollar. TSO is awesome and if you get a chance you need to go at least once.

    So, what was your favorite concert, and was it by your favorite artist/band?

  • Making Great DS Content: The Serial Position Effect

    DS Screen

    Statistically speaking, viewers will be about twice as likely to remember the first and last items of our list compared to the ones in the middle, assuming that they actually see the entire list of items. Additionally, since the recency effect usually trumps the primacy effect, our most important message should go at the end. This gives it a slightly better chance of being recalled than the first item. In other words, the first and last message in a list will have the best recall, but last typically beats first. Introduce the first item on the list at a slower speed, and leave enough time at the end for people to remember the last item. If possible, choose your two best messages and get rid of the rest.

    For more details see WireSpring’s post at http://bit.ly/cxlk18

    Contributed by Mary Rowland, Manager Creative

  • How Did We Get the Library?

    AlbumsImagine that you were given the task of recording hundreds of high quality music tracks, all in a matter of months, for an upstart company specializing in music delivery.  Record labels wouldn’t give you the rights to their libraries, so you have no other choice than to do it yourself.  Now imagine it’s 1934 and you’re in the midst of The Depression, so money and studios are extremely hard to come by.

    After years of research and digging through our archives and history, it still amazes me that we (Muzak) were able to get it done.  Within just a few months Muzak was on the air to hundreds of businesses and residences in Cleveland and New York.  By the late ‘30s, we were delivering to thousands all over the east coast.

    With Ben Selvin at the controls, the quality of the recordings in those early days was superb and the artists he persuaded to record at our Muzak studios in Manhattan were the best in the industry.

    How about another example?  On November 5, 1937 Ben invited Ray Sinatra and his Orchestra in for a session.  Just a year earlier, Ray had recorded his first gig with Ben at Muzak, so it was time for more.  The talent in this family was very apparent and Mr. Selvin wanted to take full advantage.

    Here is a track from this 1937 Muzak session.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Muzak Archives Director

  • Helping Music Make a Difference

    MM Logo

    Today, Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation announces the recipients of our 2011 Music Matters grant program.  To many Muzak employees, this is the most gratifying day of the year, because it exemplifies what it means to give from the heart and give back to our community.

    Music Matter grants are presented each year to music education programs across the country (K-12) in dire need of funding.  Grant applications are accepted from both school programs and community music programs.  Donations come to the Heart & Soul Foundation from Muzak employees, the company and clients, business partners, and other generous contributors passionate about supporting music education for children.

    After several months of reviewing hundreds of worthy applicants, our Music Matters team of volunteers is proud to present the final 15 grant selections.   And the music education winners are…

    • Aspen Park Elementary, Riverton, WY
    • Blue Ridge Elementary School, Dalton, GA
    • Burke Elementary School, Kansas City, MO
    • Dignity Housing DII Drumline, Philadelphia, PA
    • Forks Middle School, Forks, WA
    • Goliad Elementary, San Angelo, TX
    • Imagine Schools at West Melbourne, West Melbourne, FL
    • Independence High School, Charlotte, NC
    • J.O. Schulze Elementary, Irving, TX
    • Jefferson Middle School Rock and Rhythm Band, Albuquerque, NM
    • Lockland Elementary School, Cincinnati, OH
    • Meadowlark Elementary School, Pittsburg, KS
    • Socastee Elementary School, Myrtle Beach, SC
    • The Cipher – Austin’s Hip Hop Project, Austin, TX
    • Woodlawn Elementary School, San Antonio, TX

    Music Matters director Adrianne Pryor comments, “The absolute appreciation expressed by these selected recipients was beyond description.  Tears and screams of joy were the most common reactions. I don’t think we fully realize the importance our grants have on these needy music programs.”

    The foundation looks forward to presenting checks to each of these worthy programs in person this fall.

    We’ll be sharing the stories of each of the music programs on Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation Facebook Page. For more information about Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation and how you can help support it, go to www.heart.muzak.com.

    social_facebook social_twitter

    Contributed by The Muzak Heart & Soul Team

  • Muzak Idol is Coming!

    Jagger at the 2010 Muzak Idol

    Jagger at the 2010 Muzak Idol

    Imagine it’s Friday afternoon at Muzak.  At exactly 1:55 an email notice goes out to the nearly 500 employees at our Home Office in Fort Mill.  The anticipation has been building for weeks as all the seats in City Center fill-up quickly, with standing room only.  It’s time for the 8th Annual Muzak Idol.  The place is packed as emcee Jagger begins the show at 2PM sharp with a surprise performance of his own.  The crowd loves it and the cheers egg him on for more.

    Then the competition begins.  Six Muzak employees are gathered in the green room counting down the seconds ‘til their names are called.  Selected from a series of auditions, these finalists have been rehearsing for weeks, getting ready for their big moment.  The back-up band, called the m.playerz, and three judges, all music business vets, are in place, as contestant #1 enters to the applause of an exuberant audience of Muzakers.

    Well, that’s how it will go this coming Friday, August 12th at Muzak’s Home Office.  Six contestants, all employees, will sing their hearts out at Muzak Idol.  What a way to spend a Friday afternoon.  A well deserved break from a very busy week; 45 minutes of music and entertainment, all put together by a team of employees called the Shakers.  Pure fun planned for the entire staff.  It’s become a tradition.

    Just another day at Muzak…sorta!

  • What Can Bob Marley Do?

    be your friend imageEven after 30 years of death, Bob Marley, or at least his family, is reaching out to make a difference in the world.  This time The Bob Marley and the Wailers song “High Tide or Low Tide” is featured in a music video available on iTunes and Bob Marley’s Facebook page – and all proceeds are going to Save the Children to help children suffering in East Africa’s ongoing drought.  The social media campaign, “I’m Gonna Be Your Friend” launched today and is utilizing the immense social networks of over 50 artists like Lady Gaga, Eminem, Bruno Mars and U2 to help spread the word.  Watch the story unfold on Twitter with #beafriend.

    “The single, ‘High Tide or Low Tide’ was specially chosen by the Marley family for the resonance of the single’s lyrics, “I’m Gonna Be Your Friend,” according to the press release.

    Visit www.bobmarley.com or the Bob Marley Facebook page to make a donation or download the video.  Read the whole story on the Save the Children site.

  • Rock Stars

    Q2 2011 Rock Stars

    Q2 2011 Rock Stars

    Every company has some.  Some companies more than others.  You know… those employees that simply transcend all expectations.  But does every company take the time to recognize these exceptional performers?

    For years, Muzak has honored special guests, touring musicians and clients as rock celebrities, having them sign guitars that are proudly displayed at our Home Office in Fort Mill, SC.  Hey, we’re in the music business, so it just makes sense.  At last count, we’ve got over 15 autographed guitars; each packed with the signatures of these special Muzak ‘celebs’.

    Upon his arrival at Muzak last year, new president Steve Richards was looking for a way to identify and thank our exemplary employees… the ones he called our “Rock Stars.”  Our Rewards & Recognition team had been waiting for the right opportunity to initiate an all company program that would do just that.  Muzak Rock Stars was born: an all company program that awards top performers who go above and beyond their job duties to consistently find ways to improve processes, productivity, sales, teamwork and/or the quality of the work environment at Muzak.

    So now each quarter up to 15 employees are selected from hundreds of nominees as Muzak Rock Stars:  technicians, administrators, IT specialists, programmers, call center reps, sales support, warehouse personnel, designers and the list goes on.  Each of these quarterly top performers is recognized at an all-company Town Hall meeting, in front of our 500 Home Office employees and streamed to over 750 field employees and franchisees.  Each Rock Star receives an engraved trophy, a spotlight in our weekly digital newsletter and internal web site, a feature on our Muzak digital signage network and some cash!  We also have a special Gibson SG guitar (collector’s model) with each quarter’s Rock Stars engraved on the pick guard.  It is mounted front-and-center with our 15 other autographed guitars.  All of this coupled with lots of high fives, hugs, handshakes and emails from an appreciative team of employees and managers.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Company Communications, Heart & Soul Foundation

  • Carolina Sound Communications – Muzak Franchisee Speaks Out

    Perry Family

    Perry Family

    There is a saying in Charleston, SC that once you have run your feet through the sand on our beaches, you will always return to Charleston.  Muzak is something like that.

    Who knew 27 years ago, when our family decided to buy the Charleston and Myrtle Beach franchises, after being part of corporate Muzak for three years, that we would become an inter-generational business.  We were neither musicians, nor entrepreneurs, but both converged on an opportunity and we have never looked back.  Now Savannah is also part of our family.

    The people were the first draw for us – not the corporate types, but the franchisees whom we met at the IPMA (Muzak independent affiliate association) meetings who intrigued us.  We had travelled and lived around the world and these folks were interesting.  They loved their business, they loved good food and wine, and they mostly liked each other.   There was a camaraderie… a gentleman-like way of working together that we had not seen in other businesses or groups.  And the music was their common theme.

    What a privilege to sell something as glorious and emotional as music.  We could have been insurance salesmen or stock brokers.  We could have been “madmen” or any of a number of other product reps but we sell dreams.  We get to set the stage for the times of people’s lives…whether through the music or other branding media and there is something about that that gets in your blood.

    And without planning, it seems to get into the blood of our progeny because many of us are happily surrounded by our families who are also involved in the business and in our communities.  Perhaps that is another hook for most of us; though we serve many national clients, we do it in a local fashion as we are part of the network of the communities in which we live and sell and service…

    So the sand in our feet keeps us home and the people and music in our businesses keeps us coming back to Muzak.

    Contributed by Evelyn Reis Perry, President, Carolina Sound Communications, Inc.

  • Be a Real Person

    Joe Hall

    Joe Hall

    Hey there.  I’m Joe.  I like to help businesses connect with their customers through the use of digital signage and other in-store media solutions.  I’m a real person.  In this new world of social media, the way you interact and communicate with your customers is changing every day.  Keep that in mind when you create messaging for your digital signage campaigns.  Humanizing your brand makes your business accessible and builds deep connections that lead to happy, loyal customers.  Are you involved in your local community?  Do you sponsor a local little league team?  Where did you get your PhD?  Traditional sterile marketing messages deliver nice, clean, boring results in the new world of tweets and ‘likes’.  So open up, you might be surprised to find that your customers are real people too!

    Contributed by Joe Hall, Muzak Product Line Manager

  • Shilkret Session – Exquisite

    Nathaniel Shilkret

    Nathaniel Shilkret

    Over the last year we’ve showcased dozens of artists who recorded at Muzak in the ‘30s and ‘40s .  A few weeks back one of our readers, Joe Adams, asked me to look into the Muzak recordings of Nathaniel Shilkret.  Joe was a huge fan of Muzak in the ‘40s, and he knew our library inside and out.  So when he mentioned that our recordings of Shilkret were some of the best he’d ever heard, I got excited to check them out myself.  The very next day I found a few of the tracks and listened.  Oh my!

    On July 8, 1940, Nathaniel Shilkret and his orchestra graced Muzak’s Manhattan studio to record one of the cleanest, most technically exquisite sessions we’ve heard to date. Through the years Nathaniel Shilkret’s orchestra members had included Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Glenn Miller, George Gershwin and Andrés Segovia.  In other words, Nathaniel was a magnet for some of the best musicians the industry has ever seen.

    At the time of this Muzak recording session Shilkret was also working with MGM on a series of movie scores – one busy guy.  Enjoy this wonderful rendition of Nathaniel Shilkret and his Orchestra’s “Minute Waltz”, from Muzak’s transcription archives.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Muzak Archives Director